Fight On, My Soul

Front Cover
The Write Place, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 328 pages

A Virginia man's fight against poverty, disease, and discrimination forms the background of Fight On, My Soul. Set largely in rural Lancaster County, Virginia, Fight On, My Soul tells the story of Morgan E. Norris, one of Virginia's first black physicians, who believed in himself enough to overcome the daily struggles of his life and his time. Told by his son, this meticulously researched biography is a moving story that captures Norris's struggle to provide better conditions for his family and beloved patients. James Norris says of his father. "When barriers were raised and obstacles thrown, his modus operandi would be first to try to wend his way around them, and failing that, to blast them down!" Norris's life spanned the contentious period from post-Reconstruction to the relentless erosion of civil liberties for blacks, the encoding of segregation into law, and finally the collapse of Jim Crow. Norris died in 1966, just about the same time as Jim Crow, but when he died it was still illegal for a white to marry a Negro in Virginia, and the American Medical Association had yet to disavow local and state societies that discriminated against Negro physicians. Norris could have chosen to go with the flow, to move north to less conflicted environs, or even pass for white. But for Norris, none of these choices fit. He chose first to become educated and then to return to boyhood home in remote Virginia. In doing so, he fulfilled a pledge he had made to his dying father: to become a doctor and make sure no one in his little insular community would suffer as his father had. In telling his father's narrative, James Norris illuminates the delicate balance between defiance of systemic racial practices and working within a system that stubbornly resisted change.

 

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Contents

Primum non nocere First Do No Harm
23
No Carpet on the Floor
27
A Vow to His Dying Father
33
Keeping the Promise
35
Kind Mother Hampton Institute
39
A Broad Literary Training Lincoln University
43
Not Quite Utopia Howard University
49
Hampton to Tuskegee
55
We Will Have Our Own Fair
169
Jessie Ball duPont
179
No Colored Doctors for Piedmont
203
The Loss of a Niece
215
The Country Doctor Becomes a College Trustee
221
Pushing Back on Kilmarnock
235
From a Cow Barn to an Auto Repair Garage
239
Appointment Denied
245

Capturing a Proper Richmond Belle
61
The City Girl Goes to the Country
67
The Homeplace and Family Life
85
The Great Influenza Epidemic
115
The Country Doctor
119
Challenges on the Home Front 14 Discrimination Disease and Illiteracy
135
Bringing the Specialists to the Patient
147
A Most Difficult Job
155
Free Bus Transportation for Colored Students
165
26 A Delay in Accomplishment
251
Coda
265
There Comes a Time in a Mans Life When He Must Die
277
Epilogue
283
Chronology
287
Bibliography
295
Archives and Libraries Consulted
313
Index
315
Copyright

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